back to article Chinese ambassador to UK threatens to withdraw Huawei, £3bn investment if comms giant banned from building 5G

China's ambassador to Britain has threatened to withdraw Huawei and several billions in investment following the government's decision to ban the manufacturer's products from 5G mobile networks. An op-ed attributed to Liu Xiaoming and published in the South China Morning Post this morning said: "In 2018, the company announced …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    From the dept of redundancy dept

    "threatens to withdraw Huawei and £3bn investment if comms giant banned from building 5G"

    Ban us and we'll leave ?

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: From the dept of redundancy dept

      I read it as:

      "Ban this company that we promise that we don't control and we'll make them leave"

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: From the dept of redundancy dept

        "Ban this company that we promise that we don't control and we'll make them leave"

        I did wonder how this private company that absolutely doesn't have any state influence at all has the Chinese ambassador making corporate announcements for them.

        1. IGotOut Silver badge

          Re: From the dept of redundancy dept

          Eerr the same way Trump say XYZ won't be working in China.

        2. Blazde

          Re: From the dept of redundancy dept

          Read the article, there's no threat and there doesn't need to be. It's just a straightforward observation: investment will be "subject to uncertainties". Why wouldn't an overnight collapse in the market for Huawei kit affect their investment decisions here?

          1. Sirius Lee

            Re: From the dept of redundancy dept

            That's for the company to say, not a government official. Presumably the ambassador feels empowered to deliver news on behalf of Huawei and equally presumably, there's a reason for that feeling of empowerment.

            If there was ever a way to give the UK government the amunition to further curtail sales opportunities this is it.

        3. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: From the dept of redundancy dept

          Oh, that's nothing. Don't forget the Chinese influence in other areas.

          They hired senior former civil servants and former MP's to "advise", which one could look at as being an inducement to the people now in the post when they indicate that they are always hiring for more talent, but "We do feel really very strongly about X decision and would like you to reconsider".

          Press agencies can obviously be bought outright, and universities basically ditto by signing up huge numbers of Chinese students because "we really value your higher education." [But only when you agree with and support our policies].

          Fail to do so?: This is outrageous and we aren't going to let you evil imperialist monsters poison the minds of our students and so will not be allowing anybody else to attend! Hence, public support or silent acquiescence from academia.

          And that's what's obvious. It would be interesting to see exactly how much Chinese support has been bought over the last couple of decades and exactly how much they can control our political decisions.

        4. velociraptor

          Re: From the dept of redundancy dept

          Hmm, didn't the PM make a comparable statement that the purchase of Huawei gear will be outlawed? Tell me, how much say did the UK telcos have in this, esp BT and Vodafone??

  2. TVC

    Oh dear. Bye bye.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's a nice half-built nuclear reactor you got there. Be a shame if something happened to it...

    1. sitta_europea

      "That's a nice half-built nuclear reactor you got there. Be a shame if something happened to it..."

      Something already happened to it.

      The chinese lid for the pressure vessel failed NDT.

      1. Blazde

        A silo collapsed too

        (I've no idea whether Chinese-made steel was involved)

      2. Flywheel Silver badge
        FAIL

        I'll bet that lid looked beautifully made and shone in the sun like a veritable celestial presence (but maybe they shouldn't have made it so thin?)

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      (Translated) Operating Procedures

      I do sincerely hope that the UK Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) will employ their own people for translation and critically and technically assess the relevant documents to a higher level of assurance than they would otherwise. Can't afford a FAA/Boeing 737Max type relationship/certification regime, and the readership here are no stranger to "interesting" translations of operating instructions from Chinese dialects to other languages.

      And by employing their own people, let's hope they don't retain the services of Homer J Simpson either.

    3. Julz Silver badge

      We could reanimate BNFL...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great News

    Time for the British Industry to step in and save the day, Dunkirk/Blitz Style.

    Hello? Anyone? Hello....?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Great News

      A pair of "Keep calm and carry on" tea mugs joined by red tape?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Great News

        A semaphore network using the surplus of Boris' Brexit towels.

  5. macjules Silver badge
    Flame

    Oh come on El Reg!

    Kat would have had that one off pat:

    "It's Huawei or the highway"

    1. Excellentsword (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Oh come on El Reg!

      'Scuse me, that was mine (copy editor), and I try not to flog the same old Reg gags to death. Plus, I'm tired.

      1. ThereBePirates

        Re: Oh come on El Reg!

        Show me Huawei to go home,

        I'm tired and I want to go to bed

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Oh come on El Reg!

      HollywoodHuawei or Bust

      I did it My wayWe did it Huawei

      Nobody remove the Huawei kit, or the Dog and Bone gets it!

    3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Oh come on El Reg!

      Who are weHuawei to say

      When to say goodbye

      Or to wonder why we two must part

      With thanks to Sigmund Romberg and Gus Kahn

      ref: https://songmeanings.com/songs/view/3530822107859133474/

  6. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

    Not the optics Huawei needs right now

    Well done, Ambassador. Well done. Whether or not Huawei in really controlled by the Chinese gov. this surely can't help that perception. Which the polar opposite of what Huawei needs right now to not be banned.

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: Not the optics Huawei needs right now

      It’s called “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy and it’s not a tactic that’s winning China many friends around the world right now. Winnie the Pooh is undoing decades of good work.

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Not the optics Huawei needs right now

      With Blighty getting ready to do some gun-boat diplomacy before long with Big Lizzie sailing through the South China Sea, wonder if we will see an equivalent of the Yangtze Incident before long

    3. Kubla Cant Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Not the optics Huawei needs right now

      Six downvotes to this utterly uncontentious post. Three and two to the replies that agree with it.

      Mr Ambassador, you are spoiling us with your Ferrero Rochers mouse clicks.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not the optics Huawei needs right now

      The US government tells US companies who they can sell to. This is different because?

      They are also threatening (no other word for it) Germany over Nordstream 2, which is all about keeping the US fracking industry going while hurting Russia.

      Pot, kettle.

  7. alain williams Silver badge

    Does the Chinese ambassador think ...

    that by throwing his toys out of the pram that we will suddenly realise that Chinese companies are super reliable and good partners for important projects ?

    I get an image of a 3 year old stamping his feet in temper tantrum.

    1. WolfFan Silver badge

      Re: Does the Chinese ambassador think ...

      He sounds just like the Orange One.

      This is not a good look.

      1. Graham Cobb

        Re: Does the Chinese ambassador think ...

        I suspect that message isn't intended for consumption in the UK. It is a warning to other countries. I could imagine somewhere like South Africa is under pressure to do the same thing but a cost of several billions of investment might cause them to think twice.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Does the Chinese ambassador think ...

          > I could imagine somewhere like South Africa is under pressure to do the same thing

          You would think that South Africa would automatically be siding with requests to ban Huawei

          After all that Britain and the USA did to create the modern ZA don't they owe us some fealty ?

          1. stiine Silver badge

            Re: Does the Chinese ambassador think ...

            There's been a revolution since that time.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does the Chinese ambassador think ...

      If you want a vision of the future, imagine a 3 year old stamping his feet in temper tantrum - forever.

    3. velociraptor

      Re: Does the Chinese ambassador think ...

      Prams & 3yr old temper tantrums - r u confusing China for America? Sounds like someone in the Oval Office.

      I get an image of a boxing mgr talking about a champ pre-fight!

      Ding, ding, seconds out...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No super-site for Sawston then.

    It was only a month ago that Huawei announced their new £1bn site in Sawston (just south of Cambridge), which would create over 400 high-tech jobs. Looks like that's being used as a bargaining chip.

    Of course, they can recoup a decent chunk of change by building a massive housing estate on the 500-acre site now that Boris is loosening up the planning laws.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: No super-site for Sawston then.

      Yes but, no but.

      The new plant? Yes we need high-tech stuff, but please don't tout it as a way of creating jobs.

      Better to invest £1 billion of public money to create jobs by investing in small, locally-owned startups and expanding businesses. Invest the money as equity, and vest that in a local community trust, so that decisions are made that benefit the community, not distant shareholders, and prevents a sell-off to a big competitor who will close them down, or relocate.

      Yes, some will fail, but many will still be there and employing people in 10-20 years time, long after the Huawei site has closed. Massive investments by big firms aren't any help in the long term.

      That way, you could probably get 5-10,000 jobs for a billion.

  9. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Huawei is expelled from UK's 5G plans over allegations that the CCP has undue influence on Huawei

    And the next thing your local CCP official does is say that they will protest this by having nominally independent Huawei withdraw 3 billion Pounds in planned investment in the UK!!

    You're kind of proving Huawei foes' point there, Mr. Ambassador! Now China is stuck on this issue. Either they A) have to prove that Huawei really is independent, by letting it continue with a large majority of the planned UK investment, thereby making the Chinese Communist Party lose face, or B) they follow through with the threat and drive a dagger into Western governments' and telecoms carriers' perception that Huawei isn't ultimately a front for the CCP.

    I'm sticking with B), because Beijing can't appear to lose face on this, but doing that is just going to hand ammo to Huawei foes around the world. This would have worked much better if China QUIETLY cancelled the planned investment in the UK.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: This title is too long because we don't allow for Re:

      They can C) replace the current ambassador so only he loses face.

      1. anonymousI

        Re: This title is too long because we don't allow for Re:

        Or recall him.

        For a congratulatory banquet, including an announcement of promotion for "developing CCP business correctly".

  10. Paul Dx

    Sure no different to the USA Government ...

    banning US companies from selling certain products to certain countries ?

  11. steelpillow Silver badge

    Of course Huawei are independent of political pressures

    Sorry Huawei, not your fault your Government are lying fascists.

    Hey, maybe you should register Huawei (UK), float it on the UK stock market and transfer all your fsck-ing assets over here before your passports get revoked. You will find friends waiting.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Of course Huawei are independent of political pressures

      "Sorry Huawei, not your fault your Government are lying fascists."

      Finally! Someone who doesn't spell it 'facists'.

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Of course Huawei are independent of political pressures

        I think being a "facist" is when women won't date a guy because he is ugly. Maybe these guys should walk around with their hand over half their face. That way they exude kind of a mysterious "Phantom of the Opera" vibe.

        1. Evil Auditor Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Of course Huawei are independent of political pressures

          Solved. A sign I recently came across:

          You are right. It's all fake. We've ruined the whole economy just to convince you to wear a mask.

          Because you are ugly.

          My personal observation confirms that most if not all people look better with a mask over their mouth and nose.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Of course Huawei are independent of political pressures

      So this might be one of the reasons why the US is leaning so heavily on Huawei, but Xiaomi, Alibaba etc are getting off at least for now.

      Huawei from what they say (and it appears to be backed up by non Chinese employed throughout the world) is a co-op. You can't buy shares in the company unless you are an employee, so your suggestion is basically a nono unless the company has a fundamental restructure.

      I imagine some of the money men are pretty livid that one of the most successful recent tech companies is basically out of their reach!

  12. autisticatheist
    Black Helicopters

    Cooperate?

    "Britain could either choose to cooperate with Huawei"

    Shirley they mean collaborate? Or maybe they don't.

  13. Cederic Silver badge

    this story feels misleading

    The wording quoted in the story can easily be read as the Ambassador commenting on the likely thought processes at Huawei. Any tech journalist could have written "Unfortunately, this will now be subject to uncertainties"; that's not a threat, that's a risk assessment.

    While I'm very sure that the Chinese Government has substantial influence over Huawei, this is not the smoking gun other commenters are suggesting.

  14. PhilipN Silver badge

    Alibaba

    Like eBay?

    Do you have any idea what you are talking about?

  15. pintofbitter

    Good, the sooner we get rid of all the Chinese rubbish the better. Why did our politicians get us into such a reliant state to China in the first place !

    1. Mark192 Bronze badge

      The Chinese 'rubbish' is better than competing kit.

      Our government didn't get us reliant on Chinese kit. It being better and cheaper than competing kit got it selected by the companies that run and maintain our mobile phone networks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Well it's easy to have a keenly priced, cutting-edge product that meets your customers' needs when you don't have to spend as much on R&D, instead just "acquiring" much of your know-how from your competitors.

        AC because I suspect the Sinophile trolls here, who have no response other than whataboutery ("but you can't criticize China for brutal repression in Tibet/Hong Kong/Tiananmen Square/the Uighur homeland/etc because Trump! Brexit! Boris! herp derp derp") will downvote me, but we know it's true.

        1. foliovision

          Not just cheaper but better

          The issue is not Chinese industrial espionage (the Americans do it at a far larger scale via their various carnivore data harvesting programs) but a will to build better products at a more reasonable price point. Chinese IT wares were no great shakes fifteen years ago, but they have been improving quickly over the last ten years. Packaging and industrial design have been improving in the last five years.

  16. Charles Smith

    The Tiger

    The sleeping tiger yawns and reveals its teeth. I told you it was not a rug.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why don't we just do to Chinese companies that China does to Western companies?

    Must have a local "partner" (which the Government has influence) giving access to all technology and specs.

  18. Adelio

    This is the result of many years of companies all over the world racing to find the cheapest production costs over anything else. Too many companies appear to be run by accountants who do not understand that sometimes there are otherthings aside from cost that should be looked at.

    Staff are NOT an overhead, they are (or should be) an ASSET. Treat them well and they will serve you well. Treat them like dirt (IBM, ORACLE etc I am looking at you) and you are digging your own graves.

    This is also the result of countries NOT looking strategically about retaining some sembelance of internal manufacturing capacity. (ARM, the steel industry. I am looking at you). Quick fire sales of national assets is usually a short sighted view. Why in the hell are we allowing china to build a Nuclear reactor in the UK, this should be a UK or at minimum European project.

    How many things can we Actually produce inside the UK without outside resources. Probably nothing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ARM?

      Arm never manufactured anything in the UK or anywhere else, not even when it was called "ARM"...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Correct. This is the result of greedy short-sighted CEO's and shareholders making a quick buck by outsourcing everything to bring costs down while steadily increasing consumer prices. In addition inexperienced, incompetent or downright corrupt politicians have allowed this to happen with no regulation or strategic control. As a result local manufacturing has all but disappeared - apart from a few small and obscure boutique areas (like satellites or luxury sports cars - tiny industries which are always promoted as some sort of amazing success). We have also lost or are losing basic industrial capabilities - things like steel production or even creating electricity, again mainly due to cheap low quality imports and politicians not viewing these capabilities as essential national assets required for our long term security. At the same time people's living costs have been increasing but their income has more or less stalled. It's become a race to the bottom.

      This is no accident. China views the west as an adversary and the majority of their industries are on the whole controlled and subsidised by the state. They are playing the long game and are gradually ensuring that other nations become dependant on them with no local alternatives. Eventually all of our governments will be taking orders from Beijing under the threat of having the plug pulled.

      The idea of having the Chinese (or any other state) build nuclear reactors in our country is insane, but it's happening... crazy times.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        inexperienced, incompetent or downright corrupt politicians

        Usually they are all three at the same time.

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        All this stuff about China playing the long game, and having a cunning plan, is very flattering to the Chinese Communist Party. But if they were so good at foresight, how come they unleashed a global pandemic on the world by locking up the doctors who warned them it was happening?

        And then having made that ultimate fuck-up, spent ages denying it and getting all threatening. Then even refusing to allow Taiwan observer status at the WHO meetings. Which has probably undone 20 years of bribes to smaller countries to get them not to recognise Taiwan - and may well be the catalyst to get Taiwan back into a lot of international organisations that China has so far been successful at blocking them from.

        Not to mention trashing a perfectly viable looking system of long-term leadership change - where the CCP changed half the Politburo ever 5 years - and thus the entire leadership every 10 - which was a great way of avoiing falling into the trap of total inflexible dictatorship and constant purges. That looks like the most short-termist policy of all.

        1. David 132 Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Excellent points and I’m surprised you have been downvoted so much... the chinese cents-for-clicks cyber army must be out in force today.

          1. Louis Schreurs Bronze badge

            all about confusing the message with the alleged opinion of the messenger

      3. Louis Schreurs Bronze badge

        Brits.............

        All greatness has vanished thru the past century.

        The process has not led to some insight about how it all went to pieces.

        I am tired.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Brits.............

          All greatness has vanished thru the past century.

          Do grow up.

  19. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
    Pint

    Yeah, sure.

    So, the CCP allegedly has little/no undue influence on Huawei and just to prove our point, here is a statement from the Chinese ambassador.

    Okaaaaay ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    1. Louis Schreurs Bronze badge

      Re: Yeah, sure.

      the chinese cents-for-clicks cyber army must be out in force today.

      no copyright infringement intended, jusy copy&paste from another commentard

  20. mhenriday
    Boffin

    Generally, the Reg does a better job

    The South China Morning Post is a reliable bastion of Chinese Communist Party propaganda intended for consumption by Western audiences, having been bought by Chinese eBay-a-like biz Alibaba five years ago. Despite its nominally Hong Kong roots, today the newspaper largely trumpets whatever China's Foreign Office wants the world to think about China.
    Dose Mr Corfield actually read the South China Morning Post or does he, as would seem from the comment cited above, simply rely on US State Department handouts ? One may differ about interpretations, but I expect greater concern with the fact from the Reg

    1. naive

      Re: Generally, the Reg does a better job

      scmp.com so refreshing when coming from European and US based media outlets, finally not everything is centered around the braindead theme "climate change bad, orange man bad, climate change bad, orange man bad....." It is amazing to read articles written by smart journalists when used to repeating non-sense created by creatures with an IQ of 50 or lower.

      If scmp.com is the product of the CCP and western mainstream media is the result of a capitalistic free market, then the latter is a big fail.

      1. BigSLitleP Silver badge

        Re: Generally, the Reg does a better job

        Considering both "orange man bad" and "climate change bad" are accurate statements, i'm not really sure what your issue is?

        Also, your post name seems accurate.

        1. Louis Schreurs Bronze badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Generally, the Reg does a better job

          "Also, your post name seems accurate."

          You beat me to it.

  21. Katy_B

    Well, duh!

    Nothing much to add to that. I think the old Chinese proverb says 'If you kick me up the arse I won't be your best friend'.

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